Is appearance nowadays more important than human value itself? Aging is a natural process that has accompanied people for generations, but recently the uneven fight against wrinkles has been going on. Convinced by the beauty and flawlessness emanating from the media, young people believe that their appearance determines their happiness. Of course, there is nothing wrong in enjoying the benefits of aesthetic medicine. It gets dangerous when someone loses control over it, or when mothers take their teenage daughters to the plastic surgeons. The average age in aesthetic medicine offices is decreasing. Teenagers are increasingly choosing different types of treatments. They consider plastic surgeries as a way to rise self-confidence and find acceptance in a group. Adults, on the other hand, frequently see it, as a way to stand out from the crowd, or slow down the aging process, and look young longer. We keep forgetting that getting older is neither crime, nor anything ugly.
Joel Stein reflects on the future of beauty industry in his article for Time Magazine. On the cover, illustrating the story, there is a profile of a young woman’s face on a light uniform background. She has flawless skin on her face and neck. Medium blond hair is loose, healthy and shiny, her eyebrows and eyelashes are several shades darker than her hair. Eyes are directed at items surrounding her. The lips are slightly open and highlighted with a light pink color. In addition to the face and neck, the photo also shows a woman’s hand, with well-groomed nails painted with natural color. In the photograph, she holds a golden, opened mirror, facing her face. On the right side there are two hands dressed in gloves in a light blue and dark blue color. The hand on top holds a transparent plastic syringe terminated with a long needle, and filled with a transparent, colorless liquid. The needle is directed towards the woman’s forehead. The other hand is holding a silver metal scalpel directed at women’s nose. Above the woman’s head is the title of the article: “Nip. Tuck. Or Else. Now Everyone Gets Work Done. Will You?” and the name of the writer.
When, at a certain age, people notice the first irreversible signs of aging, they have two options to choose from: accept this as part of the natural process of time passing, or use different methods to try to slow it down or even reverse it. Especially women often choose the second way. This is not surprising, because most of them want to keep firm skin as long as possible. The most important thing in the field of aesthetic medicine is self-control, as the patient decides how far to go with improving nature. However, the woman in the picture is beautiful and young. Her skin is flawless and smooth, and the face proportions almost perfect. A syringe filled with liquid suggests that she is about to fill her wrinkles, which obviously she does not have, or maybe enlarge already full lips. The scalpel pointed towards her nose may indicate that she wants to change its shape, although it is small and straight. The woman in the photograph definitely does not need any of the above changes. As the phrase in the title says: “Now Everyone Gets Work Done,” even if it is not necessary, or a person is too young for it, improving beauty has become fashionable, has become something that states about belonging to a higher social class. At a time when owning a car, or a mobile phone is no longer an indicator of wealth, plastic surgery procedures are determinants of luxury. People tend to forget that behind the aging skin is a human being with his history, experience and wisdom of life.
The other picture is an advertisement promoting Nivea Men anti-aging wrinkle cream. The ad is a series of three photos illustrating the forehead of a middle-age man, his eyebrows and slightly graying, dark blond hair. Foreheads on all pictures are heavily wrinkled. On the first portion there is a blond hair girl hanging upside down. She holds the skin and this way creates the wrinkles. The girl wears white sneakers, blue jeans and white, long-sleeved T-shirt, with black stripes on it. On the second image there is a unfinished house with part of its frame visible. It pushes the skin down, and makes massive wrinkles between the eyebrows. The last portion presents a wrecked, white car with an open roof, which was probably involved in a road collision. The car squeezes into the skin on the forehead, what results in appearing massive vertical wrinkles on it. In the bottom right corners of all three photographs were placed a phrase: “Because Life Makes Wrinkles”, and the silver container of the cream next to it.
According to the slogan used by the creators of the ad, if life makes wrinkles maybe they should not be removed. Appearance, and the way it changes over time, is a part of the person’s history. Horizontal wrinkles on the forehead can indicate worries about raising children, building a house, or car crash. In the same way wrinkles under the eyes can remind of the hot, summer sun someone use to look at, and those around the lips about smiling and laughing with the loved ones. Perhaps there is no need to frantically chase after eternal youth and smooth skin, as the skin the man in the picture has tells his story.
The reality around us creates the need to be young and meet the imposed requirements of beauty. Instead of worrying about a healthy and fit body, the ads and media suggest viewers that a flawless face, and a perfectly proportional nose ensure happiness. In order to cope with increasing demands for external looks people tend to forget that aging brings knowledge and wisdom, but it also changes bodies. The point is to be able to accept these changes with dignity and do not let them to affect our self-esteem. Passing time can be a process of becoming a better person, and an opportunity to gather an experience.
Jung von Matt. Nivea Advertisement. 2014. Adsoftheworld.com, https://www.adsoftheworld.com/media/print/nivea_worry_lines_kids. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.
Aldridge, Miles. Time Magazine Cover. 2015. Time.com, https://time.com/3926124/in-the-latest-issue-36/. Accessed 24 Oct. 2019.
Course: ENG 101 Composition, Fall 2019
Assignment: Visual Analysis
Instructor: Svitlana Levytska